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Pakistani Girl Activist Still Critical After Taliban Attack

A 14-year-old Pakistani activist remains in critical condition two days after Taliban gunmen shot her in the head as political rivals united to condemn the attack and offer help.

Malala Yousufzai was moved in a military helicopter to an army-run hospital in Rawalpindi from the northwest city of Peshawar to get better care, Provincial Information Minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Mian Iftikhar Hussain told reporters in Peshawar, Geo television reported.

The Oct. 9 attack on Yousufzai, who began writing blog posts at age 11 documenting Taliban repression in her native Swat Valley, drew condemnation from leaders in Pakistan and abroad. Opposing political parties, Islamist groups and women’s rights activists have called for nationwide protests tomorrow.

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf called for prayers for her speedy recovery as her condition remains critical after doctors removed a bullet yesterday during surgery that lasted three hours, according to an e-mailed statement from his office today. Yousufzai’s posts for the British Broadcasting Corp. had focused on a Taliban ban against girls attending school.

The provincial government of Khyber-Pakthunkhwa, where Swat is located, has announced a 10 million rupee ($104,701) reward for information leading to the arrest of the culprits. Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that the man who fired at the girl had been identified. The Taliban said on Pakistani media the girl was attacked for spreading secular thoughts in the insurgency-hit valley where she lived.

Blasphemy Case

Pakistani police registered a case against a teenage Pakistani boy yesterday under the blasphemy law which stipulates a jail term or even a death sentence for those found guilty. The case comes less than two months after a 14-year-old Christian girl was arrested in Islamabad and put on trial under the same law before being released in September.

Both houses of parliament passed resolutions yesterday against the “barbaric” attack on Yousufzai and rights groups and school children staged protests throughout Pakistan.

In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised Yousufzai yesterday as “very brave in standing up for the rights of girls.”

A gunman walked up to a bus taking Yousufzai and other children home from school in the volatile northern Swat Valley and shot her in the head and neck. Another girl on the bus was also wounded.

Taliban guerrillas’ control of Swat ended after the army initiated a 10-week offensive starting in May 2009. The military campaign, which began after Taliban beheaded local officials and burned schools in a two-year fight to impose Islamic law, uprooted 2 million people from their homes.

To contact the reporters on this story: Haris Anwar in Islamabad at hanwar2@bloomberg.net; Augustine Anthony in Islamabad at aanthony9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net

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